WA storms the bastions: Best NZ and Australian sauvignon blancs of 2020
Watching rioters storm Capitol Hill this week brought sauvignon blanc to mind. Is it the Donald Trump of grape varieties?
Loved by some, tolerated by many but hated by others sauvignon blanc has surely become Australia’s most polarising wine.
By now this might be because of sauvvy’s ubiquity as much as its distinctive flavours of passionfruit and freshly cut grass.
But, also like The Donald, the grape has enjoyed some resounding success. The explosive fruitiness of the grape as reimagined by NZ winemakers buried previous Australian favourites chardonnay and riesling under a “sauvalanche”. Indeed NZ sauvignon blanc has been Australia’s biggest selling wine segment by variety for years. It has taken the arrival of rose to challenge its supremacy with its unique appeal to drinkers on both sides of the gender divide.
Australia has tried in vain to compete with the all white onslaught. However its best-known sauv blancs have mainly come from the Adelaide Hills where sauvignon competes with higher-priced varieties like pinot noir for precious land.
More recently the challenge has been taken up by Western Australia. Sauvignon blanc grown across the Nullarbor has previously been reserved mainly for semillon sauvignon blends. It’s a classic pairing that has been well and truly owned by the sandgropers locally but has dwindling appeal thanks to New World preferences for single-varietal wines.
So, if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em – as the saying goes – and it seems WA winemakers have heeded the advice by taking on the kiwis with single-variety sauvignon blanc.
Only wine sales statistics will tell you how successful they’ve been. Trans-tasman quality comparisons aren’t generally available as wine shows usually only judge local exhibits. Scoring differences also obscure the relativities of NZ and Australian shows. In Australia, however, results from last year’s wine shows had WA edging out the Adelaide Hills to claim the mantle of sauvignon blanc’s top local producer.
And they weren’t just better. Western labels were also about 10 per cent cheaper than their crow-eating cousins and far more price competitive with their kiwi counterparts.
Still, wine purchasing is as much about prejudice as it is about reason. That’s why many buy mass-produced champagne instead of much better local sparklings. Or why good, cheap wines get overlooked in favour of mediocre, expensive ones.
If you’re never to be persuaded that New World sauvignon blanc can be bettered outside NZ, then the first list is for you.
If you believe Australia can take on the kiwis at their own game (except rugby), then head for the second.
Australian and NZ wine show judges assessed nearly 1000 different examples of sauvignon blanc last year across 612 different labels. These are the top 40:
Best New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc
|NZ Rank||NZ Sauvignon Blanc Label||Price ($AU)|
|1||Inviniti Sauvignon Blanc 2020||$15.95|
|2||Villa Maria Cellar Selection Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2020||$20.00|
|3||Black Cottage Sauvignon Blanc 2020||$17.65|
|4||Starborough Sauvignon Blanc 2020||$20.00|
|5||te Pa Oke Sauvignon Blanc 2018||$23.00|
|6||Two Rivers Convergence Sauvignon Blanc 2020||$21.00|
|7||Waipara Hills Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2020||$13.00|
|8||Greystone Organic Sauvignon Blanc 2019||$25.00|
|9||Lawson’s Dry Hills Sauvignon Blanc 2020||$17.90|
|10||Rapaura Springs Reserve Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2020||$20.00|
|11||Dashwood Sauvignon Blanc 2020||$12.78|
|12||Hunters Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2020||$28.00|
|13||Rapaura Springs Rohe Dillons Point Sauvignon Blanc 2020||$28.00|
|14||Russian Jack Sauvignon Blanc 2020||$20.00|
|15||Mount Riley Limited Release Sauvignon Blanc 2020||$15.00|
|16||Anchorage Sauvignon Blanc 2020||$13.00|
|17||Yealands Sauvignon Blanc 2020||$13.00|
|18||Mud House Single Vineyard The Woolshed Sauvignon Blanc 2020||$19.00|
|19||Sileni Cellar Selection Sauvignon Blanc 2020||$27.00|
|20||Leefield Station Sauvignon Blanc 2019||$21.00|
Best Australian Sauvignon Blanc
|AU Rank||AU Sauvignon Blanc Label||Origin||Price|
|1||Miles From Nowhere Sauvignon Blanc 2020||WA||$12.99|
|2||Robert Oatley Signature Series Margaret River Sauvignon Blanc 2019||WA||$18.00|
|3||Nova Vita Firebird Sauvignon Blanc 2020||Adelaide Hills||$18.95|
|4||Anvers Razorback Road Sauvignon Blanc 2020||Adelaide Hills||$25.00|
|5||Butler Crest Sauvignon Blanc 2019||WA||$30.00|
|6||Sidewood “Estate” Sauvignon Blanc 2020||Adelaide Hills||$22.00|
|7||Dandelion Wishing Clock of the Adelaide Hills Sauvignon Blanc 2020||Adelaide Hills||$22.00|
|8||Saint and Scholar Sauvignon Blanc 2019||Adelaide Hills||$24.00|
|9||Millbrook Regional Sauvignon Blanc 2020||WA||$21.00|
|10||Dee Vine The Drover Sauvignon Blanc 2020||NSW||$6.00|
|11||Riposte The Foil Sauvignon Blanc 2020||Adelaide Hills||$20.00|
|12||Bleasdale Adelaide Hills Sauvignon Blanc 2020||Adelaide Hills||$20.00|
|13||Night Harvest Five Moons Sauvignon Blanc 2019||WA||$20.00|
|14||Longview Whippet Sauvignon Blanc 2020||Adelaide Hills||$20.00|
|15||Franklin Tate Sauvignon Blanc 2020||WA||$15.00|
|16||Hamelin Bay Sauvignon Blanc 2020||WA||$18.00|
|17||Berrigan Sauvignon Blanc 2020||SA||$20.00|
|18||Dee Vine “Estate Range” Sauvignon Blanc 2020||NSW||$9.00|
|19||Shottesbrooke Tide Chaser Sauvignon Blanc 2019||SA||$17.00|
|20||Wangolina Sauvignon Blanc 2020||Adelaide Hills||$20.00|